Archive for April, 2009
Monday, April 27th, 2009
I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a setting where so much praying is going on all day.
We started each morning with team devotions and prayer. Then at the work site, we’d gather in a large circle with all the staff and volunteers to pray together.
Soon I’d see a small huddle of therapists and mechanics praying before their first patients came to them.
Then as each new person came, the therapist would pray aloud that God would lead to the right chair for this particular set of needs. And at the end, when God had answered that prayer, there was another prayer of thanks. After that each person had time with a pastor or other church leader for hearing the gospel and praying together.
A day and a place filled with prayer — a good place to be.
Sunday, April 26th, 2009
Okay. Here by popular demand is the video of Americans trying to dance like Cameroonians–and doing a pretty good job of it.
At the end of a couple of workdays, the pastors and other volunteers broke into spontaneous singing and dancing and praising the Lord.
No instruments? No problem. Here’s an empty plastic bottle, a 5-gallon jerry can, and a wooden table.
You’re right, I’m not in this video. Well, somebody had to hold the camera.
Saturday, April 25th, 2009
Our team could not have been in Cameroon or ministered as we did without our coworkers there. There is no adequate way to express our gratitude. But we said thank you often–to them and to God. And as a tangible token, each received books that had been donated by Desiring God’s International Outreach Department.
In a place like Cameroon, where income is low and life is often a struggle, the books were received with eagerness. And so the thanks we directed toward our fellow-workers was turned back by them toward us and Desiring God.
Friday, April 24th, 2009
Last summer at Joni and Friends Family Retreat in Minnesota, the teens made Gospel bracelets to be used during the wheelchair distribution in Cameroon.
The color of each bead represents a Biblical truth in salvation and the Christian life. So a bracelet is a tangible reminder of the Gospel that a person has heard.
Thank you, Minnesota teens, for your ministry in Cameroon!
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Several times each work day in Cameroon, there were responses that reminded me of the lame man in Acts 3:
Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
God did not grant us the gift of healing for anyone. But he allowed us to raise up almost 200 people into wheelchairs. And there was rejoicing among them and the ones who love them. We saw people clapping and crying and waving and dancing and praising God.
Monday, April 20th, 2009
One of our indispensable coworkers in Bamenda was Nungu Noel, the brother of Nungu Magdalene.
He and Dan Eriksen provided the safety training and demonstration to each person who received a wheelchair–using the wheel locks, going up and down steps and over bumps, etc.
(Apparently Noel is mainly a man’s name in Cameroon, because often when I introduced myself to people, they turned Noel into Noella.)
Nungu Noel served in this same training capacity during the previous wheelchair mission in 2007, so this time we shook hands warmly and greeted each other as friends:
Me: Hello, Noel. I’m so glad to see you again.
Nungu Noel: Hello, Noel. You’re fatter this time.
Me: Uh, yeah, I guess so.
It took only a split second to remember that’s a Cameroonian compliment. Fat represents beauty, health, prosperity, and being well cared for. That’s always been true, and probably even more now that AIDS is so rampant. In much of Africa, AIDS wears the ominous nickname of “Slim.”
Sunday, April 19th, 2009
The Cameroon Harvest Project team took the apostle Paul’s words to heart:
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
But since God is God, we never were just giving. We were also receiving. One of the ways God gave himself to us was through the songs of people who came to receive a chair. As Perpetua, Maurice, Constance, Sandreen, and Bartholomew waited to receive a chair, they ministered to us God’s Spirit and strength and joy.
Saturday, April 18th, 2009
A wheel chair lifts up a person who otherwise has been lying or crawling. Now Rose, Michel, Issa, Mary, and Michael, for example, can look you in the eye, instead of being looked down upon.
It is a good thing to be lifted up in that way. But that is not enough. We pray that the people we met in Cameroon will trust in Jesus, our Savior and the son of God who “sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety” (Job 5:11).
Friday, April 17th, 2009
In 2007, Hilda Bih met the first Harvest Project team at the airport with her 1000-watt smile. This time, she came to our distribution site to receive a wheelchair.
Hilda’s voice is well-known in Cameroon because she is the host of the radio afternoon show of CRTV, the national broadcasting service. In that capacity, she is a voice on behalf of the disabled of her nation.
At times, she has played recordings of Joni Eareckson Tada’s programs. And for the French speakers, she transcribes Joni’s words and reads them herself in French.
May God give to the people of Cameroon ears to hear that ALL people are created in his image–including those with disabilities.
Sunday, April 12th, 2009
Finally! Here are pics of all of us on the 2009 Cameroon Harvest Project team.
Don’t miss the bus that took us from Yaounde to Bamenda. I called it the Pepto-Bismol bus. Others thought it was a full-sized Barbie bus.
Friday, April 10th, 2009
I’m home now and the rest of the Minneapolis contingent should be arriving very soon this evening.
I’ll be posting photos and more stories over the next few days, so you can continue to thank God for his work in Cameroon.
The one above was taken at the end of our visit with former Prime Minister Achete Achu.
And here is Francis, who had been injured in an accident that left him with one arm and a spinal cord injury. The perfect chair was waiting for him, not through OUR planning, but through God’s.
Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
Yesterday morning and then again today, as we began work, Gordon, one of our therapists, noticed a very unusual chair. It was designed to be used by a person with the use of only one arm–the left arm. If you turn just one wheel on a normal wheelchair, you go in circles. But this one has a long lever mechanism that is pumped by the one arm to move the chair forward.
About mid-morning, Francis arrived and was assigned to Gordon. Francis was injured in a work accident. His legs are permanently damaged and one arm is missing. You guessed it–the right arm.
Some time in the past, probably before we even thought of going to Cameroon with wheelchairs, this chair was manufactured for use by a person we don’t know. After a while, that person was finished with the chair, we don’t know why. It was donated to Joni and Friends and renovated in a prison workshop.
When a container was being filled with chairs for this mission, we had no idea which people we would see or what kind of chairs they would need. So the assortment of chairs is totally random–by human standards.
But nothing is random with our sovereign God. God knows Francis and the chair he needed. God was preparing a chair for Francis long before today.